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Privacy watchdog Jennifer Stoddart scolds eHarmony over privacy policy

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Online dating can be full of perils and pitfalls for those seeking a romantic partner, but deleting a profile once you've moved on shouldn't be one of them, Canada's Privacy Commissioner says.

In her annual report to Parliament, Jennifer Stoddart's office scolded a popular online dating website for making it difficult for users to delete their personal information.

The Privacy Commissioner investigated eHarmony, a U.S.-based website that operates in Canada as, after receiving a complaint from a woman who was a former member of the site.

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The woman had asked eHarmony to delete her account permanently, but when she checked back several days later, she found she could still sign in and read her profile.

When she contacted the company again, it said the profile was inaccessible to other users.

"However, eHarmony told her that it could not entirely delete her record of having joined, or remove her personal information," the report states.

The dating website said it worked with the Privacy Commissioner's office to resolve the case last year.

Paul Breton, a company spokesman, said eHarmony holds onto personally identifiable information only for "business and other legal purposes," and members can now delete their accounts permanently by contacting the company's customer service representatives.

"Protecting our members' privacy and providing a good experience on eHarmony are our highest priorities," Mr. Breton wrote in an e-mail to The Globe and Mail.

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About the Author
Parliamentary reporter

Kim Mackrael has been a reporter for The Globe and Mail since 2011. She joined the Ottawa bureau Sept. 2012. More

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